Wednesday, December 28, 2005

How to solve the drafts problem

My Blogger dashboard has way too many half-baked posts in languishing in the wretched purgatory of "Drafts." I come back to them at times and they never seem to work. I despise them. I get angry at myself for writing them in the first place. Who are these bastard children? These broken ideas, these run-on sentences, these fancy phrases that go nowhere? Do I really write this drivel? Well, yes. Please accept it. The past happened and no amount of present day contempt will solve it.

There is one good thing about these drafts. They remind me that I have not mastered writing as a process, as something to be worked on, labored over, massaged and tweaked and cajoled. They are opportunities to practice acceptance of imperfection, knowing that it can only get better, even if it has to get worse for a short time on the way.

It's funny what this blog has become. Originally, a lofty place for the hottest ideas floating around in my head, it's become more of a notebook of good advice to myself. It's a place to store those rare moments of clarity, the tiny breakthroughs, the small beam of light shining through a crack in the wall of my confusion. Those moments can pass unremembered and unreflected, as so many things in my life seem to do. Or it can be recorded and cherished for days when I need refuge from a dark mood.

Today's lesson is one I must learn over and over, the problem of overthinking. So many things are left trapped in my head, unspoken for fear of not saying the right thing, unwritten for fear of never finishing. So much fear in overthinking. So much denial of reality. Such a stingy hand of thought that will not release the small sparrows of conversation, the bounding rabbits of a fresh paragraph.

Step One in my writing process must be release, must be opening. I'm so good at closing, boxing, defining, that I don't let things escape to take on their own lives. Living such a caged existence, my thoughts sit in their own excrement, breathe in the gases of their own waste and decay. Given some fresh air, allowed to escape into the wild, the thoughts might go on living for a long time, or might be killed by fitter thoughts. But at least there would be a fossil record, a pile of bones, some tracks in the wilderness. Those fragments can be shaped. They can be made new.

Step Two must be a search for essence. "Omit needless words," say Strunk & White. "Om," says the void. Things to put in, things to take out. But it must get thinner first.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Web Grows Faster than Brain

Fresh off spearheading the redesign of my company's website, I'm looking to do the same for another agent in our office. The same only bigger. Much bigger.

So I'm trying to write him an email right now cataloguing some of the cool stuff going on with the web right now like the hottest designers, technologies, etc. -- and I can't access memories of the stuff fast enough. I should be writing posts as I go and just send him links to all of them. Collectively, they'd be my entire manifesto for a visionary new real estate site.

Instead, I've been surfing too much and recording too little. There's no cookie crumb trail through my vast ramblings through the web. The web moves faster than my brain. The only way I can keep up is to blog more.

I know I keep writing posts like this. "Blog more," I say to myself. Write shorter posts, with less editing, less self-censorship. More volume, less perfection. Here's to trying again.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Five Mile Per Hour Lifestyle

I threw my hands in the air, saluting the morning sun. A giant sunflower rose on the end of a cherry picker's boom. Jack Johnson played quietly, the people listened in peace. It was incredibly slow, unrushed, the other side of the planet from hurried. Just another sunrise over the salt flats of Black Rock City, Nevada -- the crescent moon city that is Burning Man.

This experiment in "radical self-reliance" immerses you in the most extreme conditions of beating sun and blowing sand, testing your patience and growing your humility. Money does not exist. The only things sold are coffee and ice, both as public health measures. You gotta have cold beers for the thirsty and medication for the caffeine addicts after all.

When everything's free, the richest are those who give the most. My first day out I needed a vital part for my bike, and found someone who had exactly what I needed -- all ready to go. We traded stories along the way and had a delicious breakfast of hot-off-the-griddle pancakes. We hit the spot and he gives it with pleasure. I ask, he answers. It's all just common courtesy on the playa.

You spend your days in this sort of social trade. Schmoozing with the pilots at the airport to get a fly above the city. There are no commercials or price tags to tell you how to act, just the spirit of compliment barter, the haggling of the taller tale. When everything's free, the richest are those who give the most.

Ceremony and ritual here are not bound by the holy books of yesterday. Find the artist-prophet-genius within you. I promise it's there in everyone, dying to crack out to invent ceremony continuously, to make the space around you sacred through an approach of respect.

When everything's free you spend an afternoon building a Mayan pyramid out of adobe bricks. Bricks you formed yourself from water and sifted dust. Another apprentice teaches you how to knead clay out of this crusty piece of earth, how to run a wire through the block to form sheets of clay that will be knifed into bricks with a ruler.

The alchemical solvent that makes this all possible is water, a precious fount of life in the desert. The stuff that keeps us from drying out to raisins -- Keep the pee clear and copious, kids! -- the stuff that glues dirt together so you can build with it. We should be careful with our earth's limited water, we don't want the whole planet to turn to desert, trust me.

You learn to trust yourself and your friends. You cement your most special relationships with love refined in the fire of the desert. You go to sleep utterly and blissfully exhausted every night, voice ragged from a long night of tribal storytelling, nodding heads, and smiling mouths. You spend a week devouring the world at a very slow pace.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Hundred Mile an Hour Lifestyle

Breezing over oceans of image memes -- ima-memes
Hipster couture
Rand Viking the Norse God. The cold inner fire of exploration.
The Nike symbol you've got plastered over your mindxperience.
The Totem OverAll.
Look at the major path through a city of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood and see what you see -- People Buzzing.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

ADD/ADHD and Neuroliberty

Millions of kids across the country are being medicated out of their excitement, tranquilized for their energy, and denied the right to wear themselves out naturally by bouncing and playing. I'm talking about the increasing number of children being diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD), a pathology originally invented for children who have a hard time sitting still in class, but which is now being applied to adults too. Our society's habit of medicalizing everything and looking for magic pills to fix all our ills has made this vaguely defined "disease" a huge industry.

The drug companies have already saturated our schools so now they're after adults who have problems with procrastination, "wrapping up the final details of a project," or "remembering appointments or obligations." Doesn't that sound like, um, just about everybody? These quotes come from a simple self-diagnosis screener on a site called Adult ADD. What is it? built by the maker of an ADD drug called Strattera. The site is the first sponsored link to pop up when you type "ADD" or "ADHD" into Google. Looks like there's finally a solution for to my infrequent blogging!

The real attention deficit is the lack of attention from dysfunctional parents and schools. Kids need to run themselves ragged on soccer fields with mom or dad, not sit in front of PlayStation all day everyday. Schools need to stop cutting PhysEd, music, and dance programs where kids can use their bodies and start firing the vampire paper-shuffling educrats instead. Everyone needs to stop stigmatizing kids by telling them self-fulfilling prophecies about their inability to concentrate. We lower expecations by diagnosing them with a nonexistent disease.
Further thought branches:

AbleChild: Parents for Label and Drug Free Education consists of a growing number of parents outraged over both the subjective labeling (ADHD, ADD, OCD, ODD) and pervasive drugging of our children.

An interview with Wrye Sententia (cool nom de plume for brain freedom activism huh?) from The Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics:
I read that Ritalin is the most popular drug on college campuses today as adult students are finding it an excellent study aid. [See "Academic Doping"] I’m not sure what this says about how society will cope with new generations of overachievers rather than more legendary generations of slackers, but maybe it’s for the best — at least it is for the GDP....this is what stimulant drugs for children are aimed at, what I like to call cubicle consciousness. I was just talking today with a neighbor who’s 12 year-old son has trouble concentrating in school and is being called a "borderline case" — which in his case, means that because his parents refuse to place him on prescription stimulants, he is repeatedly tested for learning disabilities and alternately scores "genius potential" and "diagnosed ADHD". Surprise, surprise! Either the diagnostic test or the school system is failing him. [Emphasis mine]
Thomas Szasz (author of The Myth of Mental Illness) reminds us that "psychiatrists have always used diagnostic terms to stigmatize and control people -- for example:
* black slaves who ran away to freedom suffered from drapetomania;
* women who rebelled against being controlled by men suffered from hysteria;
* until only a few years ago, men and women who engaged in sexual acts with members of their own sex suffered from the dread disease of homosexuality.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Kundalini Hollywood

Kundalini yoga is Kinetic yoga. Forget gentle flow, it's more like force and quick-panting- fire-breath. Seemed like a kind of calisthenics -- lots of arm cirlces and reaches in a rapid tempo. All the quick breathing warms the body. Repetition brings agony, but forget that and concentrate on moving. "Don't worry, your arms won't fall off," says the youth yogi, and they don't.

Throwing your arms around generates serious leverage and tons of momentum. Muscles have to stabilize and resist that. Clench up the abs and the sex, and get one powerful core. You shouldn't step under a wreckingball of hands thrown from above the head. But you should do it to rip the shoulders and back.

Definitely new things learned to add to my own practic. Collect the stuff that works and put it to work.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Open Mike Night: The New(Old) Church


They passed around a plate at the poetry reading tonight. If the words rose to prophecy, if the laughs shook your soul, if the images blasted the scales off your jaded eyes, please put in a $5 bill, not a crumpled $1.

This must be how religions begin. Talented words spawn an urge to creative action in the pilgrims. The words give faith that even if one's own Work In Progress never reaches Masterpiece, the process will purify and uplift us.

The action required of us today is to push our stories back upstream, up towards the media gods of Mt. Hollywood. Pick up your keyboard and camera because their divinity is ours.

Think Haiku

I need to let myself write short posts. Prune the tree of infinite possibilties, unplug my brain's multiplicity module, and think more haiku.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Present-Future is Hypercompetitive

I hate monopolists. I despise them with every ounce of my being. I want nothing more than the complete freedom of every human person on earth. But when I talk about my laissez-faire tendencies I'm immediately met with one argument from my lefty anti-capitalist friends. Markets tend towards nasty monopolies that exploit the poor and brutalize the poor worker-consumer.

The government's job is to flick those robber baron cappies off their peak perches of power. Me ontheotherhand think enterprenurial competitors are happy to do that anyway. Google and Linux seem perfectly able to gobble Microsoft's market share. The same with Amazon and Wal-Mart. People are afraid to look the future in the eye for what it is: hypercompetitive.